Week 21 in the Overwatch League is in and it probably had some of the most wildly unexpected results I’ve seen all season. Teams I didn’t expect to win ended up winning. Teams I didn’t expect to lose ended up losing. Games I didn’t expect to go to five maps went to five maps. Genji is heavy in the meta again and it’s given several teams serious zenkai boosts. It’s pretty crazy. As such, I have a lot to say about a few different teams. So, let’s get into it.
Chengdu Hunters: Disappointing
Just disappointing is all I can really say about this team. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am really unsure as to whether or not this team understands its own strengths and weaknesses, or really anything outside of each player’s own mechanical skill.
It feels like the Hunters have attempted to experiment more than any other team in the Overwatch League this season and nothing they’ve tried has really worked. The issue is that no amount of experimenting is going to fix the problems they’ve been displaying all season so far. It’s just all the simple fundamental stuff that they’ve been missing. Experimenting is something you do when the fundamentals are there, but you just haven’t figured out a winning formula yet. Chengdu has been putting the cart before the horse all season, and at this point, I’m beating a dead horse.
Guangzhou Charge: Cr0ng Is Cracked
Cr0ng probably had the best Sigma performance all weekend. This guy was just insane for the Charge.
I don’t know what Guangzhou is paying this guy, but it’s not enough. He’s definitely a big reason why Guangzhou is doing so well right now in the Overwatch League. The New York game in particular is a big example. In that second half where he basically just clutched it up for his squad. Then there were just all of the insane plays he made in the Chengdu match. It was crazy to watch. I’m unsure if he’ll be able to keep this level of play up consistently, but if the Charge can get these kinds of performances out of him every so often, they’ll be in a good spot to really give a team like the Dragons a run for their money. I don’t know if they’ll be able to beat Shanghai, but it might at least be a good match.
Seoul Dynasty: An Average Weekend
At this point, as long as Seoul isn’t losing to teams like the Hunters, I guess they’re fine. I’m sure the result against Shanghai wasn’t what this team wanted, but at least they took a map off of them. It’s better than nothing.
The Dynasty has more or less been on par with your average, middle-of-the-road team in the Overwatch League over these last couple of weeks. They’re losing to good teams like Guangzhou and the Dragons, and they’re winning against bad teams like Chengdu.
The thing is that I’m extremely hesitant to say anything about this team anymore. For all we know, they might just get another deep run into this Summer tournament and end up in the grand finals again. Like I said last week, if that’s the only time this team feels like showing up, then so be it. The only games that really matter at the end of the day are the biggest ones of the season. If the Dynasty understands that and produces during those big games then there really isn’t much to talk about. All they’re really doing is making the road to those big games harder for themselves if they keep dropping matches against the teams they should be competing with.
Shanghai Dragons: The Spoils Of Being In APAC
Okay, I’m starting to feel sorry for Shanghai. They are getting no real consistent competition in APAC right now. Teams may have scared them here or there since online play started in the Overwatch League. Some teams just suddenly jumping up to their level out of nowhere for one reason or another. Overall, there hasn’t been any team that’s been able to really genuinely challenge them consistently.
It’s like the 6 other teams in this region all fluctuate amongst each other while Shanghai continues to sit at the top bored out of their minds. I can only imagine how desperately they’d like to take on a team like San Francisco in the NA region. And after this weekend, I bet San Francisco is probably begging for that matchup as well. I really hope Guangzhou makes it to the finals of this Summer tournament. Barring another hero run from Seoul, they’re the only other team in this region that might put up a good, high-level fight against the Dragons right now.
Hangzhou Spark: Classic Hangzhou
Before I say anything, I kind of want to address this notion that Bren was making while casting the Shanghai game for this team. The notion that Hangzhou is possibly the second-best team in APAC? I’m really unsure what made him think that. Yes, Hangzhou has gotten better since adding Architect, but that doesn’t mean that this team is that much better.
I think it’s helped them close the gap that was clearly between them and the actual second-best team currently right now which is the Charge. But there’s still a gap there. I’m 100% sure Bren will never see this, but I just thought it’d be amusing to bring that up. I really was confused about him saying that as if Guangzhou, and even New York for that matter, don’t exist or something. I think it puts into perspective just how skewed the APAC region really is in the Overwatch League.
Anyway, the match against Shanghai went more or less how I expected it to go. I’m more disappointed with the London match for this team. You’d think this team would’ve been able to at least take a map off of London if they couldn’t win the match. And coming into this match, this was definitely the match they could’ve used a ‘W’ in. The match was relatively close. At least, it was closer than the Shanghai match. Credit to London as well, they’ve been looking better. I don’t think they’ve gotten that much better to 3-0 Hangzhou though.
Maybe the Architect boost is starting to wear off now. Hangzhou has struck me as a team that never really genuinely improves from week to week all season. It always feels like some outside factor is giving them a boost like the meta or the addition of a player like Architect. They aren’t actually organically increasing their power level as a team. In other words, this team feels more like they’re using the great ape transformation, something that requires certain conditions to be met in order to utilize, rather than just turning super Saiyan, something that can more or less be accessed whenever.
London Spitfire: Good Stuff
Not much to say about London this week.
I think this match was more the fault of Hangzhou than London for the most part. Still, kudos to this squad for doing what they needed to do to take the 3-0 win. They displayed a lot of good things. Similar to Babel on those sort-of off-hit scan roles, I think Although is shaping up to really be that solid, all-around flex damage player for this squad. I also think the entire team is really stepping up in the teamwork department. There was that really nice Jihun halt into Glister pulse bomb stick from them on Volskaya. While that type of play has more or less become the bare minimum of basic coordination in the Overwatch League, it’s still a very good sign for this squad. Right now, keeping up the good work is all I really want to see from this team going forward.
New York Excelsior: There’s Something About The Excelsior…
And I just can’t put my finger on it. As a sort-of continuation from last week’s reactions, I wonder how well New York would be doing if they were in NA instead of APAC. This match against Guangzhou is a real example of the slippery slope New York has been on all season. Just a lot of mistakes all over the place that kept the other team in maps. And in the maps the Excelsior lost, it wasn’t incredibly close.
I think Cr0ng ate maybe two or three blizzards. SBB had a really lackluster performance on that last map. The tank line has really been up and down for this team. Even Hotba is getting into a slump as well. I also hate to keep harping on Mano all of the time, but in that map 5, it felt like he was ready to break his keyboard with how much he was being outplayed all series.
In the second round of that map 5, after he left his entire team wide open for a shatter from Rio, the very next play, Jjonak uses his amplification matrix. Instead of sending a fire strike through it to catch someone, which would’ve been the safer play at that moment even if he doesn’t hit anyone, Mano just runs right past it. He then immediately starts swinging away at Rio. Why…?
It didn’t even feel like Mano was trying to create space for his team. It felt like he was salty that Rio got a huge shatter against him. So, he tries to force the issue against Rio. The problem is that Mano basically overextends at this moment and dies. It was probably the easiest punish the Charge had all game. It felt like the rest of the team was trying to play around the amp matrix while Mano was off trying to force the Reinhardt 1 v. 1.
It was just an incredibly selfish play from Mano, and it’s just another issue piled upon the myriad of issues he’s been having all season long. If New York was in the NA region right now, there’s a good chance they’d probably be towards the middle of the pack at this stage of the season in the Overwatch League.
Florida Mayhem: A Little Hairy
Now we come to just the first of many, many matches this weekend that went in practically the opposite direction from what I was expecting. I figured the Outlaws might be able to take a map off of Florida, but I didn’t really expect this series to go five maps. Plus, I thought it’d be more likely to end in three maps.
Florida has been slipping over their past couple matches in the Overwatch League though. Even against Dallas, they gave up Temple of Anubis. And now, they’re giving away maps to the Outlaws by simply not paying attention to the objective. You could argue they were having that very same problem against the Valiant last week. It wasn’t as egregious as this week, but it was there.
What’s worse is that this match puts them in a much worse spot than they really should’ve been going into this Summer tournament. Giving up so many maps throughout these qualifiers nets them 7th place. If they had only given up one map to Houston, or better yet swept them, they would’ve finished in at least 5th.
Now, perhaps they’re seeding doesn’t matter considering they still went out of their way to pick Houston when Dallas was also on the table. Houston has been showing clear growth just in their last 3 matches alone though. There’s a good chance that Houston will learn from this loss just as much as the Mayhem will learn from this near loss. So, we’ll have to see who did more learning next week.
Houston Outlaws: Tough One
Houston was so close in this match which is more than I can say for what I was expecting to happen. Maybe Houston takes one map off of Florida just because the Mayhem has been looking off here and there as of late. I didn’t expect things to go all the way to five maps though.
Houston looked really good. I think both Danteh and Linkzr had their moments. This is good because I don’t think Danteh is enough to really bring Houston over the hump. I think Linkzr also needs to have his carry-bursts as well. It’s just kind of crazy how much value Linkzr’s B.O.B gets when he plays Ashe. I don’t think any other player in the Overwatch League gets half as much raw value out of B.O.B as Linkzr does and it’s great.
It’s just really unfortunate that they couldn’t complete the reverse sweep. It’s even more unfortunate when you consider the huge timebank advantage they had on map 2. That map should’ve have gone to the Outlaws. If they had won map 2, then this would’ve been a 4-map series with Houston walking away with the win. This team needs to start capitalizing on the advantages they make for themselves in those kinds of situations. If they can do that, then the rematch against Florida next week might go differently.
Dallas Fuel: Doha Stepped Up
Well, it looks like the meta really worked out for this squad coming into this week as compared to last week. You really never know what the meta will look like from week to week. Turns out putting Doha on heroes he’d actually be comfortable on makes a big difference. Who would’ve thought?
Kudos to Dallas for figuring this out, but did this performance convince me that they suddenly fixed all of the problems on display last week? Not really. Doha just took the place of Decay in this match, essentially. He finally got to carry on a comfort hero without being in Decay’s shadow. The problem is that I thought the point of this little experiment from Dallas was to slot Onigod in comfortably? What purpose is he supposed to be serving if he’s just going to be the Doha equivalent of Doha’s Decay performances?
All things considered, I thought Onigod was okay in these last two matches. He had a couple of nice plays. His Tracer was good. I thought his Widow and Ashe were a bit underwhelming though. Still, all this match tells me is that for Dallas to do well, they still need at least one of their damage players to hard carry. Usually, it’s Decay. This time it was Doha. Doha couldn’t hard carry in their last match because Dallas kept forcing him onto heroes he wasn’t comfortable on. This week, he got to play Genji and he looked good.
I doubt the Fuel have Onigod to just be a one for one replacement of Decay, nor do I think he’s supposed to be another Doha when Decay is in. More than likely, and I’m only speculating here, Onigod is supposed to be a one-two punch combo with Doha. I don’t think Doha is supposed to carry when Onigod is in the lineup with him. I think Onigod & Doha are supposed to be a Striker & ANS equivalent for Dallas. The issue is that Striker & ANS are actually an extremely volatile and explosive combo for San Francisco. Onigod & Doha haven’t really been that as of yet. And if they aren’t going to be that, and one is just going to carry way harder than the other, then why not just put Decay in?
So, no, I don’t think Dallas really fixed anything from last week. They just got lucky with the meta and the matchup against an awful team like Toronto in the Overwatch League. I suppose it doesn’t really matter though, does it? As long as Dallas can rely on one of their damage players to carry for them, they’ll be fine, I guess? I mean, I suppose they’ve been “fine” doing that all season so far. But if all this little experiment has resulted in is Doha turning into Decay then what was the point? I can only hope that Onigod does end up becoming that Kobe & Shaq kind of combo with Doha. We can only wait and see.
Toronto Defiant: Classic Toronto
So, Toronto finally joins the Overwatch League’s 10-losses club this season in spectacular fashion. Toronto didn’t exactly get rolled. All three maps were pretty close to going either way. Dallas just got their carry in Doha, and when the Fuel gets their damage carry, the rest of Dallas plays a lot better. Enough for them to secure the win in three maps anyway.
It’s just a shame because this match was looking pretty winnable for Toronto going into it. And when you’ve been having a season like Toronto has been having, you need all of the wins you can get. I thought Agilities had a good performance on Genji. He was pretty much matching Doha for the most part. This team just couldn’t get it done, which is something that’s become their M.O. to me all season long. Now, they’ve been selected by the Valiant when they could’ve been doing the selecting. At least they barely missed having to participate in the qualification match this time around. Not that that makes much difference.
Vancouver Titans: Welcome To The Mid-Tier
The Boston match was probably the closest 3-0 we’ve seen all season in the Overwatch League. For a 3-0, this match felt like it took forever. Not only did it go three rounds on the first map, but both teams were also able to fully complete both maps 2 and 3. So although the final scoreline looks one-sided, the Titans certainly had to work for every map win in this series. These kinds of matches are always a pain to analyze because it’s obvious that both teams made just as many mistakes as they made good plays. So, it’s hard to decide what I want to highlight. Overall, I think Vancouver’s slightly more flexible damage lineup was a huge boon for them in this match.
As for the Atlanta match… It was a match. Might have expected a bit more from them, maybe take a map off of Atlanta at least. Still, Atlanta had one of those games they had at the very beginning of the season against teams that were about at the same level Vancouver is right now. So, what can you do?
Here’s the crazy thing for Vancouver though: They finished in 4th place for the summer tournament, ahead of the Gladiators and, more notably, the Valiant. And here’s the crazier thing: The Titans are benefiting from essentially a sort-of grandfather clause. The reason the Titans get 4th seed over the Valiant even though both teams finished at 2-1 with a +3-map score is that the previous Titans squad this season beat the Valiant in their matchup all the way back in week 1! Not this new squad. The other squad that broke up 8 matches ago! So, this new squad is literally reaping a reward the old squad achieved for them. I know that’s not exactly fair to say since this new squad did earn that 2-1 record for these qualifiers. I just thought it’d be interesting to bring it up.
Boston Uprising: You’re Kidding?
Okay, so first, I have to make a small addendum to last week’s Boston entry. I did not realize that the Titans’ match against the Reign had no bearing on their seeding going into the Summer tournament. So, for Boston to have taken the 8th seed off of them at the time, they would’ve had to at least 3-1 them. They would’ve matched them in record and map score for the qualifiers but would’ve won the head-to-head tie-breaker criteria.
Obviously, this wasn’t the case anyway. And that’s a real shame because now Boston is just straight out of the tournament after losing the qualification match to Washington as well. This is not what you want to see from a team that’s been showing some improvement for a bit now. There were a lot of flashes of El Clásico Boston Uprising in both of these matches, but especially in that Washington match. The last thing I want to see is this team regress back to that. All they needed was just one win. Just one. And they would’ve at least been in this tournament. But no, they basically lose four games in a row to some teams they should be able to beat by this point in the Overwatch League.
Nano-blade is OP right now, but come on here, Boston. Don’t throw all of this progress away.
Washington Justice: Yeah, Nano-Blade Is OP
Add Washington to the list of teams this week that benefited so heavily from Genji being back in the meta in the Overwatch League. Where would this team be without it? Probably out of the tournament since it didn’t feel like Washington genuinely played a better game than Boston overall. The Justice was almost exclusively relying on the nano-blade all match. Now, it is Boston’s job to stop the nano-blade as best as they can, but they didn’t. That was their biggest downfall and Washington’s biggest boon. That’s pretty much the long and the short of it.
As for the match against the Gladiators, well, the Gladiators just did a better job of containing the blade than the Uprising did. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than what Boston did.
The Boston match just really frustrates me because it doesn’t feel like Washington won it by necessarily being the better team. They won it because nano-blade is so incredibly hard to stop right now. There’s no real improvement there from Washington. They just lucked out with the meta. As opposed to Boston, who has looked like they’ve been making a concerted effort to improve from week to week while the Justice has been looking like a train wreck. It just doesn’t feel right.
Los Angeles Gladiators: Not What Ya Wanted
Even though the Glads walk away from this match while having only dropped one map, I still wasn’t expecting this to go to 5 maps. Even so, it’s not all bad. With the performance the Titans had this weekend, there was really no chance the Gladiators would overtake them in the Summer standings, even if they did 3-0 the Justice here.
Still, you probably would’ve liked that 3-0 just to act as a moral and mental boost for this squad. After a solid defense to force the draw on map 2, the Glads get full held on map 3. It was just one of the strangest ways to get to a map 5 I’ve seen in a while in the Overwatch League. And again, this team still keeps juggling between the conventional and unconventional at seemingly random times. The strategies they devise with LHCloudy in the lineup will never stop being entertaining, but it feels like Cloudy is the definition of a map-specific player to them. As in, they only have specific set strategies for him on specific maps. Not specific map-types. Strictly specific maps. This means they either have to commit to Cloudy’s Reinhardt and his Reinhardt only or sacrifice those specific strategies for OGE’s flexibility.
How does this team build any momentum when that’s the case? They have to basically take a full reset when they swap out such wildly different main tanks. If it was a smoother transition, this wouldn’t really feel like a problem, but being in the right headspace has been a bit of an issue for this team and I don’t think having to reset your style of play as a team when one player gets swapped out is incredibly beneficial.
Los Angeles Valiant: Unfortunate
Similar to the Mayhem after the Valiant took a 3-1 win off of them, I don’t think the Valiant should feel too bad after this loss. In fact, I think they have fewer reasons to feel worse than the Mayhem did. I think this loss was just a combination of a little bit of ill-preparedness, maybe a bit of hubris, and just not getting as much value out of Shax and KSP as they could have.
Considering the performance Paris had last week against the Shock, I wouldn’t doubt that the Valiant came into this game thinking they should have a rather easy time against them. Especially since the Valiant did beat Paris in the quarterfinals of the May tournament. I’m sure they believe they’ve gotten much better since then, so a little bit of blind confidence wouldn’t be unwarranted.
On top of that, Genji returning to the meta again really favored Paris in this matchup. Los Angeles still tried to roll with their good ole’ Tracer/Ashe/Widow damage lineup. Why wouldn’t they? It’s practically their bread and butter. I think Genji really threw a monkey wrench into that plan though.
Whenever Paris didn’t run Sp9rk1e on Genji, Los Angeles started winning again. I think that was on display in map 1. Paris ran him on Mei and the Valiant took that first round. Once Sp9rk1e got to play Genji and Soon got to play Widowmaker in those subsequent rounds, it was basically all Paris. The same goes for Junkertown. This was probably Shax’s best map in the entire series where he started taking the 1 v. 1’s against Soon on Tracer and reliably keeping him in check on that hero. Junkertown is arguably the Eternal’s best map, so to be able to take that map off of them is an achievement in itself.
After that though, Sp9rk1e came right back in on Genji for map 4, and he and Xzi proceeded to clean the series up. I doubt the Valiant was prepared for what Paris had for them, and it looked like KSP and Shax were having an off-game. This is one of those losses you can’t really feel bad about though because the Valiant still played really well.
Though, the result really did kill them in the Overwatch League Summer tournament standings. Coming into this weekend, they had a chance to take the 2nd seed. All they had to do was win against Paris. It didn’t even matter how many maps they win in. That 2nd seed was theirs if they just won. Now, they ended up finishing in 5th, just outside the top 4, and that’s kind of rough. I’m sure it isn’t at all what this squad had in mind.
Paris Eternal: I Think I Got It
I think I’ve finally figured Paris out. The scariest thing about this team to me is how much they learn from bad losses. I think Paris is the best example of not putting too much stock into a team’s performance from week to week in this era of the Overwatch League. Paris has had several awful losses this season. Houston, Florida, San Francisco. Every time, they’ve come back to have a great performance in their very next match. I don’t think there’s another team in the Overwatch League that learns from their bad losses as much as the Eternal do. Much less be able to instantly turn the information gained from that loss into a solid win in their next match.
It kind of makes me re-evaluate what they did against the Shock… Okay, time to put the tin foil hat on. What if Paris did all of the ludicrous things they did against the Shock because they knew they were going to lose to them anyway? I know that’s not an ideal mindset in a competitive environment, but this is about mind games so hear me out here. What if the Eternal decided not to play their A-game against the Shock and instead took the opportunity to experiment and glean as much information as they could about the Shock in their matchup? It makes sense considering what they actually did, like force Benbest on Rein when we know he has an Orisa, or refuse to play Soon in a Tracer-heavy meta.
All I’m saying is that I think Paris fully understood their strengths and weaknesses against the Shock and decided that it wouldn’t be worth playing their A-game and that the match would be much more useful as an informational tool to better prepare them down the line. So yes, they threw that match, but not without good reason, I’d say.
If that’s actually the case, and I’m not saying it is, that’d be some universe-brain stuff if it actually works out in their favor down the line. The Eternal’s coaches were probably the first coaching staff in the league to actually get some real credit after their insane week 5 turnaround, so who knows what else they might have up their sleeves.
Anyway, that’s just speculation. The Eternal also just got really lucky with a meta that favors a player like Sp9rk1e. So, there’s that too. Either way, Paris did play really well, and I thought their damage players, regardless of who was being fielded at the time, had a much better performance than what they have been having in the last few weeks or so.
Atlanta Reign: Classic Atlanta
So, I have a little bit more to say about Atlanta this week, but not much more. It mostly has to do with the narrative Mr. X was bringing up about this team as he was casting this match against Vancouver. He seemed to believe that Atlanta has always been bad this season for some reason. As if they weren’t straight stomping teams of Vancouver’s caliber at the very beginning of the season. This is the very reason why I started this series. People tend to have short-term memories when it comes to these things.
Now, it has felt like a century since last we saw any of these teams play live on stage, but that doesn’t mean what happened during those times didn’t happen. Atlanta crushed teams like Toronto, Boston, and Houston between weeks 4 and 5. They even gave the Mayhem, a team that was still struggling at the time, a whooping in week 8 when online play started. This match was merely a return to form for Atlanta in the Overwatch League, not some sudden emergence. The issue is that it was against Vancouver. Atlanta has already proven they can embarrass teams like Vancouver. I mean, hell, 3 of their 7 wins this season are against Toronto. And Vancouver is around the level Florida was in week 8, so I’m not surprised Atlanta won the way they did.
This was in no way a benchmark match for Atlanta. It’s important for their seeding, yeah, but not as a measuring stick for how good they are. They still have yet to beat teams like Philly, San Francisco, or even the Mayhem after they got good. This match was honestly more important for Vancouver as far as what their current power level is. And, as far as the results are concerned, Vancouver still has a long way to go. And as far as I’m concerned, Atlanta is still a middle-of-the-road team.
San Francisco Shock: Respect
The Shock showed up prepared and ready for this match which goes to show just how much they actually respect Philly as an opponent. I’m just sorry Philly couldn’t give them the match they deserved.
The Shock basically played this match perfectly. ANS was somehow able to keep both Carpe and Heesu in check, which enabled Striker to basically do whatever he wanted, which gave Philly even more problems to worry about, which meant that San Francisco’s backline had nothing to worry about, which means that they can completely focus on enabling their tanks to win the tank battle AND make sure ANS is always topped up.
It was crazy just how much the Shock was able to contain Carpe. I’m pretty sure ANS was tracking Carpe wherever he went around the map all game. He wasn’t going to allow him to sneak up on him. Whenever Carpe did start pressuring him, ANS gave him the respect he deserved and didn’t try to force the 1 v. 1. All he did was give Carpe space, spray him down with the SMG, and trust that his healers would keep him alive. That’s exactly what happened. Eventually, he’d just force Carpe to recall and he was back to business taking his head off from across the map.
Striker was an absolute menace. Since he was in no way concerned about Carpe like at all, he was free to do whatever he wanted to the other five guys of the Fusion. Rarely did a Tracer 1 v. 1 happen in this match between Striker and Carpe. If ever one did happen, it was probably at the tail end of a team fight or just Striker making sure Carpe was in check. I don’t think Striker ever tried to take a 1 v. 1 because he knew he didn’t have to. ANS was more than enough to make sure Carpe couldn’t get anything done.
And I haven’t even mentioned the field day the other four guys on this squad were having. Whoever was in on support probably had the easiest game of their careers. I’m sure they didn’t have to worry about anything but keeping the other four players topped up and alive, allowing Smurf and Choihyobin to basically pick Philly’s frontline to pieces.
Then there’s probably the scariest thing about San Francisco to me. The X-factor that I don’t think any other team in the Overwatch League has. I’m even hesitant to call it an X-factor because it happens so consistently for them it’s practically unfair, and it’s the absolutely unreal plays this team seems to pull off every single match. The type of plays that you could never prepare yourself for. The Shock has been getting these types of plays all season and it feels like a cheat code for them.
When I saw that clip of Smurf’s halt yanking Fury off the map as he was walking out of spawn, forcing him to use his ultimate to just stay alive, I instantly knew things weren’t going to get better for the Fusion. The Shock does stuff like that routinely in every single one of their matches. It is bonkers the type of stuff this team does, and they do it all the time.
Then there was that play on map 2. The Shock was attacking point B on Hanamura. Instead of just automatically trying to push through the same choke point every other team tries to push through on that map, they send 3 players to one side of the map and 3 players through the choke point. I really don’t understand why more teams don’t try to mix things up as often as this team does. They snatched up point B in no time off of this play.
Then there was that unreal push on map 3 where San Francisco almost captured the first checkpoint without actually having fully won the team fight yet. On Rialto, most teams end up getting slowed down around the second corner of the route the payload follows as it enters the courtyard. A lot of tight team fights end up happening around this space. Somehow the Shock managed to push Philly far enough away from the payload during a team fight that Smurf found himself shepherding it to the first checkpoint while 5 Fusion players were STILL alive. Are you kidding me?
It looked like Philly was fighting ghosts as they were backed up into a corner together at that moment. Literally, only Striker was pressuring them at close range. The other 5 guys were standing off at a distance, giving the Fusion so much space because Smurf was more concerned with moving the payload than fighting them. And Philly STILL almost lost that fight. You just don’t see any other team in the Overwatch League doing stuff like this. It is unreal.
San Francisco understood every single strength and weakness Philly has been displaying all season long. They exploited those weaknesses while mitigating the strengths beautifully in this match.
The Shock has always had my respect as a team. I think they understand how to win in the Overwatch League better than any other team. This match only further confirms that.
Philadelphia Fusion: …
Disappointment can’t even begin to explain how I feel about this team right now. It doesn’t even scratch the tip of the iceberg. This match was basically the epitome of every single fear and issue I had about this team in the Overwatch League under the surface. Where do I even begin?
Well, let’s talk about the major issue I had with this team coming into this match. There was an interview after last week’s match against Boston with FunnyAstro. Soe basically asked him what did this team learn from the loss against the Mayhem in the May tournament. FunnyAstro probably gave the most worrying answer I could ever think of. He basically said it reminded the team that they hate losing…
Okay… here’s the issue with this answer: You can hate losing all you want, but how does that equate to winning? In other words, what are you doing to improve as a team so that you make sure another loss doesn’t come at the hands of a team like Florida? “Hating losing” doesn’t mean “getting better” which is something a team should always be trying to do if you ask me. Even if you’re at the top, you should always be looking for ways to get to the next level.
This is something I’m sure a team like the Shock fully understands… It’s the reason why they put teams away so dominantly. They aren’t satisfied with just “being clutch”, because what does being clutch really mean against a team you should be 3-0’ing comfortably? Being clutch only really matters against competition that actually earns those clutch moments. Not against a bottom feeder team like Boston. You can joke about going to map 5’s and being clutch all you want, but this has been an issue with this team for a while now and it’s something I pointed out all the way back in week 5 in that loss against Paris. I’ve given this team a break on this issue because I really wanted to believe this team could really turn it on when going up against the best competition in the Overwatch League. Boy, was I wrong.
Not only was this team unable to even take a freakin’ map off of the Shock, but I also think they barely won more than, like, ten team fights throughout the entire series. Are you joking?
So, let’s talk about this match.
Coming into it, my number one concern was actually Heesu and not Carpe. The Mayhem has already shown that when Carpe struggles, it can be tough for the Fusion. It’s just that Carpe doesn’t really struggle against the vast majority of competition he’s faced in the Overwatch League this season. So, I was fully prepared for Carpe to have a few rough spots in this match.
It was Heesu that really needed to step up and help Carpe out. If Carpe couldn’t find anything Heesu needed to help make space for him. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Heesu was essentially a non-factor in this match, which meant that Carpe might as well have been fighting ANS and Striker by himself. Heesu basically needed to do to Striker what ANS was doing to Carpe all match long; keeping Striker in check and holding his own against him. Or at the very least more consistently winning sniper 1 v. 1’s against ANS.
It was so hard for Carpe to get anything done in this match. I could almost see the frustration just in the way he played whenever the game was capturing his POV. At times it looked like he didn’t even know who to focus on. He wasn’t able to kill ANS very consistently and Striker just looked like he wasn’t really worried about him at all. Meanwhile, Heesu is constantly getting domed by both ANS and Striker. Not to mention how many times ANS killed Carpe as well, especially on map 1. Carpe’s flanking shenanigans were supremely scouted by San Francisco. You could tell by the way ANS was tracking Carpe all game. I don’t know what made Philly think this was going to work against a team like the Shock in the Overwatch League, but I’m sure hubris and confirmation bias is the culprit.
Carpe has been getting away with crazy flanks all season long. And another issue I have with this team is the amount of confirmation bias they’ve been getting all season long. Yeah, they’ve been winning a lot of matches doing a lot of stuff they should be getting punished for. They just haven’t been. Not consistently anyway. What makes you think the Shock are going to fall for that stuff though? As I mentioned in week 12, this team plays with its food way too much. It was only a matter of time before it burned them.
Anyway, back to the match. There’s a play I want to highlight that I think encapsulates Philly’s mental state as this match progressed. At the very end of Philly’s offensive push on map 3, Sado’s Orisa is pushing the payload. Striker’s Tracer comes in from an off-angle and starts putting pressure on Sado. This is before the next team fight has even really started yet. Instead of keeping his eyes forward and trusting that his healers will keep him topped up through the Tracer damage, Sado turns his attention to try and 1 v. 1 Striker. If this was at the end of a team fight, I’d be fine with this. It isn’t though. This is at the very beginning of one in an OT situation. If you’re Sado, you cannot be that frazzled by the enemy Tracer. That’s exactly what Striker wants from you.
As soon as Sado shifts his attention to Striker, Fury gets hit by an accretion from Choihyobin. This immediately starts pushing the rest of the team back. The tank line starts breaking down, everyone on Philly starts getting super low and San Francisco cleans them all up because Sado couldn’t focus on what he needed to focus on. It’s such a small mistake, but that’s all San Francisco needs to manufacture an opening.
The worst part about this loss for Philly is that it knocked them down to the 3rd seed for this next tournament. They are the 3rd seed again. What’s crazy is that they could’ve been the 2nd. The Valiant lost to Paris. This means that if Philly had just taken one stinkin’ map off of San Francisco, they still would’ve finished in 2nd place. They would’ve won the tiebreaker against the Reign and that second seed would’ve been theirs. But instead, they drop all 3 maps and finish with a map score of +3; one map behind Atlanta. You have got to be kidding me…
You just can’t make this stuff up. This was an awful, awful, awful showing from this team and I hope this loss does more than just “remind them that they hate losing”. This team needs to take this loss, internalize it, and identify the problems they had in it so that it doesn’t happen again. They need to quit screwing around with teams they shouldn’t be screwing around with. They need to drop this confirmation bias they have about “being clutch”. And they need to take teams seriously and quit acting like it’s not them when they lose as if they have no reason to improve or get better.
I hope this match was a rude wake-up call for this team. If it wasn’t then there really is no hope for them. Sure, they can go on and shakily beat every other team in the Overwatch League for the rest of the season. If that’s what satisfies them then they’re free to do so. But if they’re actually serious about winning a championship this year then they need to start fixing these problems. The Shock will more than likely be gatekeeping them from that trophy. And if they can’t even contend with the Shock by the time the post-season rolls around, then they might as well forget about winning a championship at all this season because it’s not happening.
What did you think about this week’s Overwatch League games? Leave your comments below!